“You seem jumpy Carter, did you switch from mocha to crack?”
“Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”: Funny, actually, funny & warm & none too taxing, but enjoyable. Sam Rockwell is fabulous, though not at all the Zaphod of my memory. Mos Def is a likeable & gentle Ford Prefect, & also apparently “one of hip-hop’s most introspective and insightful artist“. Huh. Well … weird. Also loved everyone doing voices (Rickman, Bailey, Fry — could you get three better guys? Pretty much no). In fact, I had quite the good time, though I kept wondering how this movie could possibly work so well. ‘This is too childish, I shouldn’t be enjoying this, hee hee, funny shovel-things coming up outta the sand, heh,’ was how it went for me. I was content. Admittedly, however, I wasn’t expecting much, so, y’know, keep that in mind.
In contrast to the silliness of Hitchhikers, I saw “In Good Company”. This is going to be one of my favourite films of the year, I can tell. It lives up to its name, in a surprising way, because the film gave me such a 360 degree analysis of its characters (sorry, that’s an inside joke for those who’ve seen the film) that now I find I’m missing those guys. Topher Grace is one of those people that *owns* his place on screen, & whereas in “That 70s Show” he’s pretty much ‘the talented one’, here he’s pitched against Dennis Quaid & Scarlette Johansson in a film that was surely written specifically for at least two of them.
But Grace, Grace is a king. His character, Carter Duryea, is smart and needy, quick-witted and struggling, and he gets to utter a line which now won’t leave my head. With much self-doubt & a new rambling uncertainty, he says,
“I want my life to mean something (pause) to me.”
I think that sums up a newly emerging direction (pause) in film at least: the celebration of a life that may seem ordinary on the outside, but which is meaningful on the inside. Life that’s significant, not to the world, maybe, but to me & those around me. Life that isn’t particularly about gettin’ outta Porpoise Spit (am I the only person in the world that couldn’t bear “Muriel’s Wedding”?), but making peace with what you are, & fulfilling goals no matter _where_ you are.
In this way, I put “In Good Company” in the same class of film as “Before Sunset” and “Sideways”: films about people trying to make the most of their lives, but not in any I’m-a-gonna-save-the-world-from-meterorites/plagues/the-guys-that-shot-JFK/an-assault-on-what-I’m-ironically-calling-democracy kinda way. More in a I-want-to-wake-up-and-feel-good-about-myself way. They say something I like about relationships being central to meaningfulness, and how we conduct ourselves in terms of other humans being our greatest challenge, our riskiest venture, our noblest achievement, our likeliest defeat.
They say something about building a life you can live with, that satisfies enough of your wants & lives up to enough of your principles & provides enough of a sense of purpose that you are content & even happy.
They say, I suppose, something quite simply about life.
And thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, capnoblivious, for letting me know there is ice hockey in Australia. Ice hockey, The Only Sport I’ve Ever Been Able to Watch, in Australia, A Small Country with a Big Desert. How improbable and fabulous!
And though you trust the light
Towards which you wend your way
Sometimes you feel all that you wanted
Has been taken away
You will walk in good company
— Jane Siberry, The Valley